When trying to match your financial aid requirements with the college tuition fees, the biggest question you may be faced with is this—Should you accept the maximum financial assistance you are awarded and attend the most expensive college on your list. Or, should you lower your sights and apply to a less expensive college?
There is no one right answer to this question. What is right for another student may not be right for you. In trying to determine what is best for you, you need to ask yourself a few student debt questions. The answers to these questions will help you make the right choice.
What is the Total Amount I Will Have to Repay After I Graduate?
It is crucial to have a realistic idea of the total amount you will have to repay after you graduate. Students who graduate with a vague idea of their total student loan obligations are in for a rude shock. They often find it difficult to figure out how to meet this commitment.
Understanding the total amount you will have to pay after you graduate in tangible terms will help make the college decision process much easier. It gives you a clearer picture of the amount you will have to pay back every month and how long it will take you to be finally clear of your student debt.
This is one area where College Raptor can really help you out. By filling out our free match tool with your information, we can accurately estimate not only what your net price cost (what you actually pay after scholarships and financial aid are taken into consideration) will be for attending, but also what your debt load may look like after graduation—including an approximation of monthly payments! The more info you fill out, the more accurate your personalized results.
If the total amount sounds like it may be challenging for you to repay, it may be better to strike that elite college off your list and consider a college with lower tuition fees.
Have I Pursued All The Free Resources Available?
Most students will end up having to rely on federal or private student loans to fund at least part of their college education. However, relying on loans without exploring free financial aid sources is a major mistake that many students make. They are either unaware of these opportunities or because of the trouble involved in applying for them.
Free money is always a better option than taking a loan over the long term and any trouble you have to put towards obtaining free money is totally worth it. Before applying for student loans, you must first exhaust all your options for getting free money.
Grants and scholarships are the two best free resources when looking for financial assistance towards college tuition. Both are similar in that there are no repayments involved. The major difference between the two is that grants are typically need-based while scholarships may be merit-based or need-based.
When applying for a grant, you will need to demonstrate financial need. Scholarships, on the other hand, have varied criteria. Some may be based on academic or athletic achievement while others may be based on extracurricular or artistic accomplishments.
Spending some time exploring grants and scholarships and applying to all opportunities that you are eligible for can be well worth it when you consider that you will graduate with that much less debt. The less debt you graduate with, the faster you will be on your way to true financial freedom.